The Loh Down On Science

Here's one fast-food research study that's not about obesity!

Derek Jensen / Tysto / Wikimedia Commons

Does having to wait in the drive-thru make you crazy?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Behavioral researchers at the University of Toronto feel your pain—and study it!  They examined what's called environmental “priming.”  It's when objects in the environment trigger us to act certain ways unconsciously.  See a library?  We're automatically primed to speak softly.

The researchers wondered:  Does fast food prime us to feel impatient?  Fast-food companies promote their products as time saving.  We like that!  But does that positive feeling have a flip side?

To find out, the researchers had volunteers recount recent meals.  Either a meal at a local fast-food chain or one at a traditional restaurant.  Each typed a description.  Software gauged their patience by how quickly they typed, and how lengthy their descriptions were.

Next, researchers stopped people on a street, supposedly to fill out surveys.  But sneakily, they positioned folks so that in their peripheral vision, they saw either a chain fast-food restaurant or traditional restaurant.

Result?  In both experiments, fast-food exposure increased people's impatience with the activity.

There’s much more to this study.  But: I’m ready to move on.  French fries!


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